A History of Mineral Rights in Texas

A History of Mineral Rights in Texas

Texas is a state rich in minerals. It includes four of the top 10 oil fields in the nation and also holds natural gas. Non-fuel minerals like salt and limestone show up in large amounts, as well. These valuable deposits have been part of what we now know as Texas long before the record begins. So how did we develop the legal tools we needed to assign ownership rights to those natural resources? The story is actually quite fascinating.

The USA is already in a unique position compared to the rest of the world in terms of mineral rights. The vast majority of other countries do not allow private citizens to own mineral rights—even for resources on their land. In Texas’s early days as a colony of Spain, the oil, gas, and other minerals and mined metals were technically owned by the Crown. The 1824 Constitution of Mexico brought Texas land under Mexican rule. The rights to metals and minerals were therefore transferred to the Mexican government. Even when Texas declared its independence from Mexico, the Republic of Texas itself owned mineral resources. Under the rule of Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Texas, Texas landowners could obtain designation granting them some interest in minerals, but this practice is a far cry from today’s mineral rights ownership. Less than 200 years ago, no private individual owned mineral rights in Texas the way they can now.

A few important dates in the history of Texas mineral rights include:

  • 1519: Spanish Explorers map the Texas coastline
  • 1690-1821: Texas is a Spanish colony
  • 1821-1836: Texas is part of Mexico
  • 1836-1845: The Republic of Texas is its own Country
  • 1845: Texas becomes a state in the US
  • 1866: the state releases all owners of the soil rights to the minerals and mines contained in their land
  • 1919: surface rights and mineral rights are separated

Shortly after Texas was annexed and became a state in the USA, mineral rights ownership began to change. The Constitution of 1866 allowed the state to release mineral rights to landowners. If you owned land, then you owned the minerals and mines within that land. The Relinquishment Act of 1919 distinguished between surface rights and mineral rights, allowing other parties to have an interest in mineral rights while landowners retain surface rights.

Since private citizens acquired the right to own minerals on their land, people have been concerned with buying, selling, and leasing those resources. If you are interested in putting your own Texas mineral rights on the market, call The Mineral Auction at (512) 698-2802. We’re ready to help make your own mineral rights sale a part of Texas history!

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